State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch ties the tie of an attendee at his annual job fair, held Saturday at Proviso Math and Science Academy. | Rep. Welch/Twitter
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 || By Michael Romain
While hosting his annual job fair at Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park on Saturday, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) took some time to let off some of the steam that’s been accumulating within his party practically since Gov. Bruce Rauner came into office last year.
It’s approaching a year since Springfield passed the deadline for approving a FY 2016 budget, even as state lawmakers approach a deadline for approving a budget for FY 2017.
Welch said he’s a natural optimist, but he isn’t confident that the state won’t end up in the unimaginable situation of not passing a budget for two years in a row.
“I stay hopeful, that’s just the type of person I am; but the realities we live in say that we might not have a budget for a second year under Rauner for quite some time,” Welch said.
“We weren’t out of Springfield for 24 hours and the governor was already running TV ads against several Democrats. It’s hard to sit at the table and negotiate with someone calling you names and not dealing with you in good faith.”
Last month, Welch was the primary sponsor of a major labor bill that “would have sent contract talks between Rauner and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 to an independent arbitrator, preventing the roughly 38,000 state workers the union represents from going on strike or being locked out,” according to a May 25 Chicago Tribune report.
House Democrats failed to override Rauner’s veto of the bill, which an AFSCME spokesman said would’ve “provided to all state employees the same fair arbitration procedures already available to public safety workers throughout Illinois.”
House Republicans argued that the bill would remove the governor from negotiations that Democrats said he had already walked away from, the Tribune notes. In the end, Welch said, the result of the legislative loggerheads is an exacerbated unemployment level in Illinois.
“Illinois has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and the unemployment numbers in the 7th District are similar to the numbers statewide,” said Welch.
According U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Illinois’s unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, was 6.6 percent in April — tied with Alaska for highest among states.
“Part of that high jobless rate is due to what’s going on with Rauner and the state budget,” Welch said. “The longer we go without a state budget, the longer people will have to lay folks off from jobs; particularly in social service agencies and organizations that rely on state money.”
Most of the booths at Welch’s job fair, which volunteers said was well attended, represented entities that likely have been deeply affected by the state’s budget crisis.
Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview School District 89, for instance, was represented with a booth, where personnel were handing out information on substitute teaching positions, among other openings. D89 depends on state aid for nearly 60 percent of its operating revenue.
“We still haven’t gotten all the money owed to us by the state,” said D89 Superintendent David Negron, who was present at the fair.
“For the past six years, we haven’t received 100 percent of our budgets,” he said. “We’d been getting a prorated amount, so the state would pay out a portion of the money it has promised. For instance, last year, the state paid out 87 percent of the money it said it would give us.”
Welch said he hopes that things improve, but that “the question is, ‘When will that happen?’”
“We should be embarrassed that Illinois has the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” he said. “Higher than places like Mississippi and Arkansas, where the unemployment rates are typically through the roof. We can do better, we should do better and the people in the state deserve better.” VFP
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Secretary of State Jesse White’s Super Senior Event | June 22
On June 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 200 S. 5th Ave., in Maywood, the Sec. of State will host a Super Senior event.
Learn the Rules of the Road | 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Renew, replace or correct your driver’s license and/or state ID
- Vision screening (with driver’s license renewal)
- License plate sticker sales
- Motor voter registration
- Organ/tissue donor information and registration
To renew a current Illinois driver’s license or ID card, a valid driver’s license or ID card must be presented.
To apply for a duplicate or corrected driver’s license or ID card, two forms of identification must be presented.
For information about acceptable forms of identification, please call (217) 782-7044.